Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

On Twitter, everyone will be famous for 15 seconds

Last week, after a smear campaign began in an attempt to discredit Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who worked with Edward Snowden to break the news about NSA spying, Greenwald's supporters counterattacked on Twitter with #ggscandals, a mock list of other possible blights to Greenwald's reputation. (The political context is an ongoing feud on Twitter between civil liberties supporters and Obama loyalists who despise Greenwald. It's one front of the larger war on Twitter over the NSA scandal and its meaning. Almost all my Twitter friends are battling the National Security State Axis.) My son Richard, who teaches English in South Korea, called my attention to the hashtag and we both contributed Tweets to it. Aside from the pushback to the attacks on Greenwald, it was fun to try to come up with a funny Tweet.

YES! magazine sorted through the hundreds of Tweets using the hashtag and did an article on the top 10 Tweets. My son and I both made the cut. You can see the article here.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Green Egg: The most important intellectual event of the 20th Century

[Latest in a series of letters from Robert Anton Wilson to Green Egg. I've included the reply from Tim Zell, Green Egg honcho and the founder of the Church of All Worlds -- Tom]

Green Egg Forum, (1974 or so)

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

Genea Steinberg's article on Wil Peigh (GE63) was damn good. Western science went down the wrong trail in ignoring Giordano Bruno's dialectical vision and settling for Newtonian mechanism. The return to Bruno's erotic cosmology in Reich and Timothy Leary is the most important intellectual event of the 20th Century, even if it was so shocking to orthodoxy that both Dr. Reich and Dr. Leary landed in prison.

I don't like Lance Christie's schemata of "revealed," "Taoistic" and "Pagan" religions. (This does not mean that I dislike Mr. Christie and Mr. Zell, and I hope it doesn't mean that they will begin disliking me.) I think the problem is that virtually all the major religions -- I mean the religions with millions of followers, i.e. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism -- have gone through so many evolutionary changes that they now evade categorization. Islam, for instance, has its authoritarian factions and dogmatists, its philosophical and liberal wing, its ecstatic and "pagan" (magick) division, and various blends and combinations of these. Christianity has been the most murderously psychotic of all religions, but Francis of Assisi was a Christian (and a Sufi). The people who excommunicated Spinoza for thinking and the people who brought Sufic sex-magick, science and tolerance to the Occidental world were all Jews. Most Buddhists are atheists but some Buddhists have more gods than the Hindus. In short, we can categorize individuals (although that, too, is fraught with peril) but we cannot categorize religions that include millions of individuals over thousands of years of history.

Lao-Tse, Meister Eckhart, Rumi, al-Ghazali, Dogen Zengi, William Blake and Aleister Crowley all belonged to the same religion, although they are usually classified as a Taoist, a Christian, two Moslems, a Zen Buddhist and two unclassifiable visionaries.

I vote for continuing the interminable letter (or column, or whatever it is) of Steve Erdmann, for a variety of reasons. One, terminating him has an aspect, possibly, of fear, and "fear is failure and the forerunner of failure." Two, cutting him off in mid-stream or mid-diatribe seems somehow spiteful, vengeful, or otherwise angry-embittered-sulky, and it is good training to resist all compulsive emotions and see what the nervous system produces next when simple robotic patterns are rejected. Three, I personally find him entertaining: I keep wondering what new assaults on logic he will produce next. Four, the skilled dialecticians among our readership can practice their debating skills on him better than on one another, since he represents a real, rather than a superficial, difference with most of us. Five, a spectrum is more amusing than a monochrome.

In this connection, I note that Mr. Erdmann's exercise in logic takes the form (reduced to basics), "Communists and Nazis commit atrocities," "Communists and Nazis are pagans," "Therefore, pagans commit atrocities." This syllogism has the same defect (I forget its technical name) as "X and Y are red-heads," "X and Y commit sodomy every Thursday," "Therefore, red-heads commit sodomy every Thursday." Translated into Boolean algebra, Mr. Erdmann's fallacy would be even more glaringly obvious. Even on a vulgar level, he got his effect by simply ignoring the fact that "Pagan" in GE terminology includes various groups and excludes others; especially, it excludes Communists and Nazis. By using a different meaning of "pagan" -- one more or less invented by himself -- he made the word include Communists and Nazis. Any freshman debating team can get the same results by taking one of Mr. Erdmann's terms, re-defining it to suit themselves, and then holding him to blame for the result. For instance, he "justifies" his odd use of pagan by quoting one philosopher, Berdyaeu. He also calls himself "a member of the human race." Quoting one philosopher, Clarence Darrow, who described "the human race" as "the worst sons-of-bitches in the galaxy," I can now "prove" that Mr. Erdmann is a son-of-a-bitch. But this is children's games; anybody can score such points by taking the words of the opponent and changing their meaning. Philosophical debate begins when one eschews such tricks and argues with what the opponent is actually saying. It is more taxing intellectual work than word-games are, but it leads to light instead of heat.

As for the debate between Mr. Erdmann and various others as to whether the Gnostics were Christian or Pagan, any reading of Gnostic literature should clarify that. Some Gnostics were Christian and some Gnostics were Pagan, just as some alchemists were Christian and some were Pagan.

Incidentally, Mr. Erdmann's citation of Communism and Nazism does make a valid point: namely, that Christianity is not today the most murderous cult in the world. Up until 50 years ago, this was not true, and any believer in humanism, tolerance and liberty was justified in regarding Christianity as the main enemy of progress. Now we know that Christianity is only one of several forms that militant intolerance can take, and this is an important lesson. In the final analysis, my opposition to banning Mr. Erdmann from GE is that such a gesture, at least symbolically, suggests the manifestation of such intolerance in our own ranks.
                Love is the law, love under will.
                Robert Anton Wilson
                Discordian Society
                2035 Channing Way
                Berkeley, CA 94704

(Bob -- the reasons you gave for keeping Erdmann around are precisely the reasons we HAVE kept him around as long as we have -- his dissenting articles and opinions have appeared in virtually every issue of GE since #50 -- and, 14 issues later, are just as irrelevant and off-track as when he first began. After 2 years, we have all grown tired of his inane diatribes, and have decided, belatedly, many feel, to consign him to the oblivion they so richly deserve. "Enough IS enough!" -- TZ)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Green Egg letter: "the emotional-glandular circuits are appropriate only for emergencies"

Green Egg, No. 63


Dear Green Eggers,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

As usual, the Forum in GE 62 seems to consist about half-and-half of (a) people who want to bicker, slander and call names among themselves and (b) people who think Crafters shouldn't bicker and slander and call names. Thus the Hodge and the Podge remain in permanent unbalance, which is good.

I was moved by Margot Adler's letter recounting how the Lady spoke to her and said that all this bickering is good because it keeps the Craft decentralized. This confirms the vision of Malaclypse the Younger, who invoked the Lady in Her Erisian aspect (156=Chaos=Babalon) in 1958 and was told, "We Discordians must stick apart."

Following this logic, all Discordians are Popes and we have all mutually excommunicated one another. Furthermore, we have incorporated the Opposition by recognizing them as Accordians and thus part of the eternal unbalance with us. (In more technical theological language, they are aneristic and we are eristic, whereby it can clearly be seen that neither side would have a reason to exist unless the other existed to be resisted.)

This is in keeping with Crowley's great equation 0=2, which defines the universe as the non-existent resultant (0) of the imaginary conflict of two (2) unreal  forces. If this Holy Wisdom were more generally understood all the amusing quarrels could continue merrily without people getting themselves all tired out by it. After all, as Leary shows so brilliantly in Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality and Neurologic, the emotional-glandular  circuits are appropriate only for emergencies, like being bitten by a bear. Running on the emotional circuits chronically is living in full-time neurological-glandular emergency imprints and wears down the gut and other important organs something awful. This is  why neurotics are always tired and the happiest people are those who have forgotten most (and own least).

Crafters might find much profit in those Sufi exercises based on alternating concentrations of impassioned emotional identification and meditative detachment. This quickly gives some idea of what Crowley means by that 0=2 hype. Everything that exists (for you) is that which you have passionately identified into existence: the Void always underlies it all. Below all the emotional and intellectual and emotional imprints, the mind remains unblemished and pristine as those Zen jokers say.

There is no need to drop out entirely into Buddhist bliss and just wallow in the void, of course. Rather, the Discordian unbalance suggests the advisability of including both attachment and detachment, thereby unbalancing the last possible threat of balance and stagnation.

In re: Lady Persephone's musings about "white" and "black" magick (and curse this racist terminology) -- normal consciousness is the most statistically prevalent form of magick. Other forms of black magick merely heighten one or more of  the basic perversities of this normal consciousness (dualism). Similarly, the normal ego, based on infantile-to-adolescent imprinting of emotional-glandular and muscular-spatial circuits, is the most prevalent form of demonic possession. (The great demon Choronzon always begins his appearance with the typical ego-centered cry, "I am I!" His nastiness is based on the terror underlying any ego: the recognition that I am only I temporarily and accidentally.) A close and unsentimental examination of Jesus Freaks, Krishna Freaks, Scientologists and ordinary people during the 8 hours a day of working for wages (doing the Will of others) shows the mechanisms of black magic and demonic possession to be quite simple and dreadfully ubiquitous. Or just examine any of the quarrels in Wiccadom or elsewhere to see this process advance from germ to monstrosity.

The art of quarreling without delusion (identification) is explained in the Bhagavad Gita in symbolic-allegorical terms and in Korzybski's Science and Sanity in precise neurological terms. In general, any conflict in which it seems to you important that you win is a temporary bout of insanity and obsession. Discordians know that whatever happens is all part of Her great plan, or Her great lack of plan (play) and merely say when Chaos manifests again, "Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia! Kallisti!"
                      Love is the law, love under will.
                                                    Theophobia the Elder
                                                    House of Apostles of Eris
                                                    c/o Wilson, 535 Taylor #104
                                                    San Francisco CA 94102

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Letter to Green Egg: 'Christianity is only degenerate Eleusiniasm'

Green Egg Forum, Vol. VII, No. 62, Beltrane AA14

Dear Forum:

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

Jefferson Clitlick is not quite precise in writing that "the step from materialism to pantheism is wholly emotional." In my own case (and judging by the literature, in the case of most pantheists) the step was intuitive, in the Jungian (and Sufi) sense of "intuition," or as in mathematical discovery. (Creating a new Gestalt, while not a rational process, is not "emotional," either.)

Rev. Clitlick is more persuasive in challenging Tim Zell's dichotomy of "Pagan religions" and "philosophical religions." Every dichotomy of that sort creates more confusion than light, which is why the Cabalists warn us against "the accursed dyad." Any classification schemata which finds itself compelled to lump Buddhism and Confucianism together with Christianity on one side of a fence and Eleusinian and Hopi systems on the other side is Choronzonian. Christianity is only degenerate Eleusianism: on the occasion when it has come alive it was, briefly, revived Eleusiniasm, e.g. France 1100-1300. As for Tantra, which ends up on the "Pagan" side of Tim's fence, this may very likely be a Buddhism invention and could just as well go on the other side. (I am aware of the evidence that Tantra may also possibly be a Hindu, Gnostic or Egyptian invention.)

If one must build such schemata, it is wise to have at least three categories — four, or more, is better. Such systems might not be more true than dualisms, but they are always less false...

Frankly, I tend toward "philosophical" religions for the same reason I tend toward philosophy in general. We could all use the light of philosophical debate more and the smokey fumes of feud and name-calling less. On the other hand, logic is only one circuit of the human nervous system, as Dr. Leary has shown with such brilliance in his Neurologic, and we need to use the other (lower and  higher) circuits also, which is why I am also a Pagan. Buddha, Lao-Tse, Catullus, Rabelais and Adam Weishaupt are among the Pagan philosophers invoked in Crowley's Gnostic Mass and nobody who studies them can fail to become both more Pagan and more philosophical.

I am currently teaching a class on "Scientific and Experimental Magick" for Orpheus Free University. I suppose the miscegenation of those adjectives with that noun will disturb even more people than Clitlick's amalgamation of philosophy and Paganism ... But Paracelsus, Vaughan, Bruno  and Crowley (among others) were scientific magicians, just as more recently Carl Jung, Tim Leary and John Lilly are magical scientists. We lose nothing by our inclusions; we lose much by our exclusions.

In fact, the expressions of Christian piety in the writings of Thomas Vaughan are so frequent and eloquent that I find it hard to believe they are just inserted to mislead the Inquisition or the Star Chamber. Vaughan, evidently, was a Pagan (magician-alchemist), a scientist, a philosopher, and a Christian all at once. I see no reason to despite the Christian element in this soup; obviously, if there had been more Christians like Vaughan, there would have been no burning ...

The only trouble with the Self-centered philosophy of Ayn Rand and her disciples is that they haven't taken the trouble to find out what and where the true Self is.

         Love is the law, love under will.
                       Wrong Rev. Mordecai Malignatus
                       High Priest, head temple
                       Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria
                        c/o Wilson, 535 Taylor, Apt. 104
                       San Francisco CA 94102

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Letter to Green Egg: 'It is a serious business to be conscious in this universe'

[Continuing a series of RAW letters to Green Egg, shared with me by Mike Gathers -- Tom.]

Forum, Green Egg, Volume 7, No. 61

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

Somebody should write a new biography of Victoria Woodhull from a Wiccan (or at least occult) viewpoint. The first woman to address the U.S. Congress, the first female to run for president of the US, the first female stock-broker on Wall Street, the most radical of all the 19th Century feminists, the boldest of all free love advocates, etc. etc. Victoria Woodhull was also the first President of the National Association of Spiritualists. Spiritualism meant many things in the 19th Century -- more than it means today. Victoria practised "magnetic healing" in the manner of Mesmer. She based her metaphysics on the system of correspondences of the medieval hermeticists. She tried to popularize a form of Christian Tantrism, saying Genesis was an allegory, the human body was the Garden of Eden, and humanity could evolve to a higher level by directing the sex energies properly. In many ways, she anticipated not only Blavatski but Crowley. She was in constant communication with various disembodied Intelligences and it is even alleged that she raised a child from the dead on one occasion. She was also a clairvoyant. Radicals remember her for advocating socialism and accepting a black ex-slave as her running-mate in the 1872 election, women liberationists remember her as the forerunner of the pro-sex wing of feminism ("I have an inalienable constitutional and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or as short a period as I can, to change that love every day if I please!" was her battle-cry) and it's time occultists realized she was one of our prophets, too. Radical historians generally apologize for her "superstitions."

Dr. Timothy Leary is the latest to report possible communication with extra-terrestrial intelligences. His new book, Terra II, explains in detail how, by using the methods of Dr. Dee and Edward Kelley, he received 21 transmissions from a Higher Intelligence which appears interstellar. Dr. Leary suggests that Dee also recognized the cosmic source of his own Enochian transmissions but called them "angelic" because Giordano Bruno had been burned at the stake a few  years before for speculating too boldly about intelligent life in outer space.

I find Dr. Leary's transmissions especially interesting because Mr. Kenneth Grant, current Outer Head of the Ordo Templi Orientis, has lately been describing Crowley's guardian angel as "extra-mundane or extra-terrestrial." It is also noteworthy that Dr. John Lilly — neuroanatomist, cyberneticist, dolphinologist, psychoanalyst, etc. — describes several encounters with possible extra-terrestrial beings in his book, The Center of the Cyclone. Like Dr. Leary, Dr. Lilly carefully specifies that his contacts might be hallucinations: he also suggests that they could be superior humans living on earth in the present or the future.

Dr. Andrei Pujarish, whose work with clairvoyant Peter Hurkos and the psychedelic mushroom, amanita muscara, is described in his book, The Sacred Mushroom, recently was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle saying that ESP seems to have an extra-terrestrial basis. He didn't explain what he meant and the dumb reporter didn't ask him, alas.

The kind of work on the heart chakra used in Sufic or Tantric training seems especially needed by Occidental magicians and mystics. Paranoia, intolerance, hostility and milder forms of glandular fear-rage activation syndromes seem to afflict Occidentals in general, not just the Christians. Indeed,  those who complain loudest of Christian chauvinism seem most inclined to replace it with Neo-Pagan chauvinism. It is a serious business to be conscious in this universe and those who fritter it away on bickering, backbiting and bellicosity are occluding their own Light.

Love is the law, love under will.
                                Mordecai the Foul
                                Bavarian Illuminati
                                c/o Robert Anton Wilson
                                535 Taylor, Apt. 104
                                San Francisco CA 94102

Monday, June 24, 2013

Letter to Green Egg: 'my forthcoming book on Crowley'

[Editor's note: I have always enjoyed reading Robert Anton Wilson's letters to various publications; they contain some of his most pungent sentences. Beginning today, I am running a series of letters to Green Egg, the pagan magazine, that were written in the 1970s. Photocopies of the letters were supplied to me by Mike Gathers, and so I am passing them on to you. This letter includes the startling fact that Wilson was working on a book about Aleister Crowley, Lion of Light. Does anyone else have more information? -- Tom]

Letter to the Forum of Green Egg
From Vol. 6, No. 60, Oimelc AA13 Feb 1, 1974

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

I see that debate still continues about how much of the Wicca tradition goes back to the Stone Age and how much was created by Gerald Gardner (with the help of Aleister Crowley). After researching that question for about seven years now, I am more confused and less certain than ever. To increase the confusion (and lessen the certainty) of others, let me call attention to Idries Shah's book, The Sufis (not to be confused with his other book, The Way of the Sufis, which does not contain the same information.)

Mr. Shah's evidence leaves no doubt that some at least of the Wicca tradition is neither of European neolithic origin nor of Gardner's personal invention but came into Europe via the Sufis in the late middle ages. Anyone who has remaining doubts can simply attend a Sufi dance and a Wicca festival in rapid succession, whereby it will appear obvious to the senses that the same basic rituals are being used for the same basic purposes.

I hope nobody thinks that I am asserting that Witchcraft is "only" a Europeanized offshoot of Sufism. It could equally well be argued (and has been argued) that Sufism is "only" an Arabized offshoot of Gnosticism.

Dr. Martello is textually correct in asserting that the Gardnerian "be seed and root and stem and bud" etc. can be found in Crowley before it appeared in Gardner; so can the phrase "nor do I demand  aught in sacrifice." Of course, Crowley's sensitive psyche could have picked these expressions up by ESP from Witch covens active around him; or (see Francis King's Rites of Modern Occult Magic), he might have had contact decades before he met Gardner ...

A careful reading of the preface to From Ritual to Romance by Dr. Jesse Weston might indicate that she was in contact with a proto-Gardnerian coven circa 1900-1910. The same hints, however, can also be taken to refer to either the Golden Dawn or the Ordo Templi Orientis.

Attempts to be historically and scientifically accurate about the history of European Wiccadom (which have been rare, Goddess knows!) have mostly run aground by looking only at those events which were given the label of "Witchcraft" by those whose words were recorded. If we widen our lens and look at the subject of "Christian heresies" and "non-Christian heresies" and "Secret societies" etc., if we compare alchemical texts with Rosicrucian pamphlets and early Masonic charters, etc. a great deal begins to come into focus, as I hope to show in my forthcoming book on Crowley, Lion of Light. The fact that there are Masonic elements in Gardnerian covens does not mean that Gardner necessarily put them there.

Various "Pagan" elements, it appears, survived the official Christianization of the West and the Moslemization of the Near East. Sometimes, traditions were preserved within families or other groupings for many centuries. Sometimes, somebody discovered an "olde booke" and recreated what had been persecuted out of existence. Sometimes, somebody wandered as far as several thousand miles in search of wisdom, found it, and came home to establish as a new school something that had already existed there as a tradition only a few generations earlier. Many other permutations and combinations are possible, and probable, considering the ferocity of persecution and the need for secrecy.

In the 19th Century, after burnings at the stake were no longer legal, fearing only the more modern forms of persecution by slander and harassment, the black American adept, P.B. Randolph, very carefully hid the sexual side of his methods even from his own official disciples and passed them only sub rosa to the Ordo Templi Orientis. Many learned tomes arguing about whether the OTO traces back to the Templars or just to Karl Kellner's contact with an Arabic (Sufi?) magician are vitiated by neglecting the Voodoo tradition via Randolph. Similarly, attempts to understand, say, Elizabethan Witchcraft by looking only at what was called "witchcraft" a few centuries earlier might be equally vitiated by ignoring Giordano Bruno and the Rosicrucian lodges in England at the time.

In short, we will learn more by examining the practices of various groups than by centering on what they called themselves, or what their enemies called them.

               Love is the law, law under will,
                                  Mordecai the Foul
                                  (Robert Anton Wilson)
                                  Bavarian Illuminati
                                  535 Taylor
                                  San Francisco, CA 94102

Sunday, June 23, 2013

New Falcon to reissue Shea's Shike

New Falcon Publications, the publisher that keeps the bulk of Robert Anton Wilson's books in print, has announced that it is re-releasing Robert Shea's two volume novel, Shike, apparently as a two volume set (if I'm reading the press release correctly.) New Falcon also is releasing new books by Ronald F. Murphy and Michael Peterson.

Shike was Shea's first novel after he lost his job as a Playboy magazine editor and began his new career as a writer of historical novels. The official Shea website, maintained his his son, Michael, is here. Shike also can be purchased as a Kindle edition.

In other New Falcon news, the hassle with its attempt to release several RAW titles as Kindle editions apparently continues; I still haven't obtained a readable edition of Wilhelm Reich in Hell. I will post an update when I have news.

Here's the text of the New Falcon announcement, issued June 21:

New Falcon is pleased to announce three new and exciting titles to our ever evolving library of cutting edge and controversial material.

“The Everyday Atheist”, by Ronald F. Murphy, is an honest look at a growing skepticism with a previously unquestioned religious upbringing.   This book represents Mr. Murphy’s first work in a series that will attempt to discuss the stark realities of taboo subjects from the unbiased perspective of the everyday reader.  In his initial book he provides a clear account of why he adopted, questioned, and ultimately rejected religious faith.  No matter what your faith, his plainly spoken and readable narrative addresses the unspoken thoughts that linger in us all, as we seek to answer the age old question – is there a God?

“Shike” is a two-volume novel written by Robert Shea, originally published in 1981.  New Falconis extremely pleased to be re-releasing each volume of this bestselling classic, by the co-author (with Robert Anton Wilson) of the legendary “Illuminatus!” trilogy.   This novel takes a sweeping view of Japanese history, encompassing many centuries within a fictionalized account of the lives of two contemporary characters.  This intriguing work by a very popular author is a testament to the true scope of the man’s talent.

“A Time Of War”, by prolific novelist and world-famous former Marine Michael Peterson, has both an authenticity and a flair for the dramatic which will thrill and engross readers of all kinds.  Set during the Vietnam war and including a wide ranging cast of characters, the story spans the war in the jungle itself to the planning of its execution in Washington.  Containing starkly written accounts of both combat, and sexuality, this novel deals with a difficult subject with a frankness that many will find refreshing.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Between apathy and paranoia

Michael Johnson, in the blog post I recommended yesterday, quotes Norman Mailer as writing, "we have been marooned in one of two equally intolerable spiritual states, apathy or paranoia."

Michael comments, "The key, as I see it, is to find a ground between Mailer's apathy and paranoia, to be creative, have a good time, get high, do good for someone else, get paid, and get home in time for dinner."

This relates closely, I think, to Bryan Caplan's advice to live in a bubble and to carefully choose the issues that you are going to campaign for.

It seems to me that everyone who pays attention to politics has to avoid paying too much attention, to the point where you get in a state of rage, and you waste time that could be spent on more useful pursuits. I spent quite a bit of time on Twitter last night, Tweeting about the NSA stuff and following the duels between the Obamabots and the civil libertarians, before I finally put my damn device down and resumed work on a new RAW series that will start Monday on this blog.

My wife has a younger sister in Pennsylvania who is married and has two boys; lovely folks. They don't follow politics and they don't vote. They just live their lives. My wife thinks they should be more engaged, but they seem pretty smart to  me.

My way of trying to "find a ground" is to work for civil liberties and peace, focusing on the Internet, and let everything else kind of slide. Those issues seem pretty hot right now, so I'm called to politics more than I'd like. (Speaking of peace, here's an excellent Andrew Sullivan piece on Obama's stupid decision to jump into Syria's civil war.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

The sad, odd death of Michael Hastings

The journalist Michael Hastings, a strong critic of rogue behavior by the state, died in a car crash in LA on June 18.

Everyone agrees his car hit a tree, but from there opinions diverge. Some see it as a clear case of drunk driving and/or reckless driving. Others have noted how convenient Hastings' death was for people in power and suggested it was no accident. The Los Angeles Times reports that more information on the accident is coming soon: "The crash is under investigation and there will be an official accident report after a toxicology test is completed in the coming weeks."

The Rancid Honeytrap has a typically brilliant, and also fair-minded (not always his strong suit) examination here of conspiracy theories about Hasting's death. Excerpt:

Just for the record, I am not advancing a theory here. I noticed a lot of people who I don’t consider knee-jerk conspiracists were made particularly uncomfortable by Hastings death, especially when details of the accident emerged. Predictably, there was the customarily strong push to belittle these suspicions with talk of tinfoil hats and conspiracy theories and nutjobs.

Though I don’t generally embrace most conspiracy theories, I also don’t find knee-jerk anti-conspiracism any more thoughtful or satisfying if it isn’t predicated on something weightier than the assumed essential decency of the state and its agents, or presumed knowingness about how conspiracies work or don’t. This has always struck me as a form of exceptionalism that ignores both our own domestic history and this country’s foreign policy now and in the past.

I thought the post was evenhanded, but Gawker has tried to squash it.  Borromeo, a commenter on the post, remarks, "Did the FBI not kill someone they were interrogating? Yes they did. Did the story not fall apart piece by piece? Yes. Did anyone in the news media actually follow up on the story to get to the bottom of it? No. Has anyone held the FBI accountable? No." (See this if you can't figure out what Borromeo is talking about.)

Somewhat related perhaps. (Hat tip, John Merritt.)

Michael Johnson weighs in with a typically fine post. (Worth a separate blog post that will go up soon.)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Oz Fritz on the Rosy Cross and The Treasure House of Images

Oz Fritz has a recent blog post which supplements all of the wonderful comments he posted during the Masks of the Illuminati discussion: Relating The Treasure House of Images to the Rosy Cross Symbol. As Oz notes, J.F.C. Fuller wrote The Treasure House of Images, and the chapter Oz quotes from is quoted in Masks of the Illuminati. Fuller is a character in Masks of the Illuminati. (Fuller is a prominent military historian. I had no idea he also wrote on "the occult" until I ran across him in Masks and looked up his biography.)

Oz has been on a hot streak lately, with other interesting subsequent posts — a follow up post on the Rosy Cross and "The Fifth Element," on an African music album that he remixed, even on John Milton and William Wordsworth.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

NSA weirdness roundup

1.  The NSA versus Finnegans Wake. Channels Orwell, too. (Via John Merritt).

2. I like this Sen. Biden guy debating Obama over the NSA. He sounds like a libertarian.


3. At work today, I was working on a story about a libertarian advocacy group's efforts to slow down a bill here in Ohio that make it easier for police to obtain cell phone records. I read in this press release that the bill passed 32-1 in the Senate. Naturally, I wondered who the weirdo was, so I tracked down the vote. The lone "No" vote was Sen. Michael Skindell, a Democrat from the Cleveland area. Senate District 23.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Matheny's 'Ong's Hat' page

Joseph Matheny, who is the host and main webmaster for Robert Anton Wilson Fans and has released valuable RAW audio material and also is a filmmaker, also has the Ong's Hat: The Incunabula Papers Web site, a blog with lots of articles and postings on topics such as anarchism and Internet censorship. Subscribing to the mailing list, as I do, provides a long list of links in the form of an email every few days.

A free version of his Ong's Hat literary work may be downloaded here.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Why should you care about Internet spying?

I published an article in my newspaper this weekend, attempting to explain why people should care about NSA snooping, and for a change, my paper put the whole piece online. You can read it here.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Bloomsday

Today is Bloomsday, June 16, and I have writer links that cover sex and death.

For the sex: James Joyce. "Facts About Bloomsday and Joyce's Ulysses" is from the blog Interesting  Literature.  Here is the Modern Library list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century, which gives the top ranking to Ulysses. The novel is No. 6 on the Radcliffe list. Edward Champion (the Iain Banks fan mentioned a few days ago) is reading all 100 Modern Library books and writing about them for his blog; you can follow his progress here.  It will take him a little while until he gets to Ulysses but the next review will be for No. 77, Finnegans Wake. (Will he read the Finnegans Wake! blog?) In the meantime, Ted Gioia has three essays of interest as his Fractious Fiction site about experimental fiction: A piece about Joyce, an article about Ulysses and an article about Finnegans Wake. Hmmm, who else could Gioia write about if he's interested in experimental fiction?

As for death, the recent death of Iain M. Banks remains a fresh wound and interesting new articles keep popping up. Here is what is likely his last interview. (When Banks announced he had terminal cancer, I thought selfishly that there will be no more Culture novels. In the last interview, Banks talks about the work he was trying to complete before he died. "Also, just in case there's some highly unlikely good news, I want to make sure I've got the next Culture novel ready to go if I can." Unfortunately, Banks died even more quickly than expected. ) There is also discussion about the new novel, The Quarry, which is about a man with terminal cancer and which was almost finished when Banks suddenly learned about his own illness.

The interview also has some interesting facts about the fine Scottish science fiction writer Ken MacLeod. Ken's blog post about Banks links to Ken's interview about Banks on "As It Happens," a Canadian radio program, and Ken's article about Banks' science fiction.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Robert Anton Wilson Fans

In the unlikely event that you aren't familiar with it, or as a reminder, the wonderful Robert Anton Wilson Fans website is the best place I know to find articles, letters, videos and other RAW material that is not available in his books.

I have put up a new post on the site highlighting additions to it. You've seen new material if you follow this blog closely, but there is much else to explore.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Trove of Kerry Thornley documents unearthed

The Great Speckled Bird, the publication not the song,  was an underground newspaper put out in Atlanta, 1968-1976, notable among Discordians and Robert Anton Wilson fans for the fact that it ran quite a few articles by Kerry Thornley.

Jesse Walker has just discovered that there is an online collection of Great Speckled Bird, accessible to all. 

Jesse writes, "Kerry Thornley wrote regularly for them, both under his own name and as "Ho Chi Zen." The search function seems to work pretty well."

Vice has just interviewed Jesse about his new book (out  August 20, preorders available at the usual places),The United States of Paranoia. (Jesse did considerable research on Discordianism and RAW for his book. A chapter of the book is entitled "Operation Mindfuck.")

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Various links

Rebels: A Journey Underground (Canadian documentary series on counterculture, features RAW, William Burroughs, Timothy Leary, etc.) Dangerous Minds posting via Robert Anton Wilson Fans on Reddit.

Depictions of the Necronomicon, from Dan Clore's personal library.

Arnold Kling on NSA snooping.

The rush to demonize Edward Snowden (Matt Welch at Reason Hit and Run, via Jesse Walker.)

Timothy Leary biographer John Higgs, on the implications of NSA snooping for future biographers. Higgs has added dates to his RAW tour.

Paul Krassner on creating the term "Yippie" and other contributions to linguistics. (Via Roman Tsivkin.)

Me, on the NSA stuff, here and here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Eric Wagner on 'Tale of the Tribe'

TSOG is, in my opinion, not one of Robert Anton Wilson's best books, but it does have its moments,  in particular a section at the back that provides an outline for Tale of the Tribe, the book about the Internet that Wilson planned to write but never finished.

Eric Wagner points out that there is a Tale of the Tribe discussion thread at the Maybe Logic Academy forum (open to everyone.) Wagner notes, "Fly, Dr. Johnson and myself, along with many others, have done a lot of work over the past decade pondering Bob's unwritten Tale of the Tribe.  My new book will hopefully provide a look at my part of that process, especially in terms of Joyce and Bob." (Eric is referring to his work in progress, Straight Outta Dublin.)

Here is another observation from Eric, posted over at Overweening Generalist: ""On another note, I've changed my perception of Bob's Tale of the Tribe. I used to regard it as an unwritten work. Now I regard it as a perfect fragment, like the fragments the Romantics liked so much. (I love Charles Rosen's discussion of Romantic fragments in his The Romantic Generation.) We live in that perfect fragment, The Tale of the Tribe. (Well, you and I seem to live in that fragment. Perhaps our whole culture, our whole tribe, does.)

"One can see 'Kubla Khan' as another such, um, complete fragment, a successful poem about incompletion.

"I remember Bob telling me he had a conversation in 1968 in Chicago with Ginsberg and Burroughs about The Cantos, and they decided it seemed appropriate for the epic of the 20th century to end in fragments."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Iain M. Banks 1954-2013

Well, this has been a bad couple of weeks for literature. First Jack Vance, now Iain M. Banks has died. As I wrote previously, Banks was a great favorite of mine.

Here is a good appreciation of the Culture novels, by Edward Champion. Here is a piece from the Telegraph. As of this writing, no New York Times piece, but I will check again Monday. In the meantime, the Guardian's obit is here.

It's simply a scandal that this guy never won a Hugo or Nebula. No toy rocket ship for Excession? Or Look to Windward? Or Matter?

The New York Times obit for Jack Vance is here. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

'High Castle' vs. 'Illuminatus!'

Re-reading The Man in the High Castle after many years certainly offers a glimpse of why Dick fans like RAW's work,  and vice-versa. High Castle is written from the point of view of several characters. They struggle to figure out what the hell is going on, particularly because in many cases things are not what they seem. (Are the "genuine" American artifacts the Americans sell to the Japanese for high prices all a bunch of fakes? In one scene that made a big impression on me the first time I read the book, a Japanese presents a Mickey Mouse watch to the visiting Mr. Baynes, and Baynes wonders whether the gift is serious or a joke.) The characters are very paranoid, with good reason. They can never tell whether another character is telling them the truth, or bullshitting them. The characters live in one universe but are aware there could be others with a different reality. They can change their realities by simply moving to another area in the U.S. It's a really eerie novel.

The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo award (Dick's only Hugo!) at Discon 1, the World Science Fiction Convention held in 1963 in Washington, D.C. One can't help but feel a rush of affection for the Hugo voters for honoring this fine, weird novel. (The other nominees that year were The Sword of Aldones, Marion Zimmer Bradley; A Fall of Moondust, Arthur C. Clarke; Little Fuzzy, H. Beam Piper, and Sylva, Jean Bruller. Perhaps Dick was helped by a relatively weak field.)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Today's Illuminatus links!

(1) Jesse Walker posts about the same topic as yesterday's post. Somebunall will want to read Jesse's post and follow the links to the excellent Greenwald and Schneier pieces. Everyone who is an Illuminatus! fan will want to see the cartoon Jesse found to illustrate the piece.

(2) Illuminatus! opens with a quote from Ishmael Reed's novel, Mumbo Jumbo: "The history of the world is the history of the warfare between secret societies." It is on sale this month as an Amazon Kindle book for $2.99.

Hat tip, Michael Johnson for this:

The interview where RAW mentions Reed and Illuminatus and Gravity's Rainbow is the Conspiracy Digest interview #2 in Illuminati Papers:

CD: Was black writer Ishmael Reed's _Mumbo Jumbo_the inspiration for _Illuminatus!_? Could you give us your reaction to Mumbo Jumbo?

RAW: I didn't read Mumbo Jumbo until about three years after Illuminatus! was finished. The same is true of Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. The astonishing resemblances between those three books are coincidence, or synchronicity, or Higher Intelligence (take your pick). I love everything Ishmael Reed writes, and I once sent him an official Discordian certificate making him a Pope in the Legion of Dynamic Discord. -p.44 in my olde edition

Friday, June 7, 2013

Government spying -- it's worse than you thought

On June 1, my newspaper, The Sandusky (Ohio) Register, published my long article on privacy, surveillance and government repression of the peace movement.  (Go figure, my editor assigned the office libertarian to do the piece.) As part of my research,  I interviewed Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute, and I asked his opinion on how much spying on Americans the NSA actually does. Excerpt from the article:

One important question for privacy advocates is just how many email messages and telephone calls are intercepted by the National Security Agency, the NSA, Sanchez said. It’s difficult to find out if the NSA is sucking up vast amounts of information, although in theory the NSA is only supposed to intercept communications with people in other countries.
In practice, it’s not always easy to tell if a Gmail message is between two people in California, or between someone in Pakistan and someone in Yemen, Sanchez said.
“It’s plausible to me they are vacuuming up a lot of stuff,” he said.

Well, those paragraphs turned out pretty well, don't you think? If you can't tell what I'm talking about see this piece in Slate and this posting by Sanchez. See also this Wall Street Journal article. All of this began with Glenn Greenwald's scoop at the Guardian. If you want to keep up with this topic, I suggest paying attention to Sanchez on Twitter. Jesse Walker is also good.

My boss at work gave me permission to post my June 1 article here; perhaps sombunall of you will be interested.

It’s the Golden Age for communication.
A generation ago, long-distance messaging consisted of letter-writing and phone calls from a telephone anchored to the wall.
These days, thanks to cell phones and the Internet, anyone can communicate from almost anywhere to almost anyone, using technology that sounded like science fiction 20 years ago. On Twitter, or on Skype, it makes little difference if you’re in Milan in Italy or in Milan in Ohio.
But with all these blessings come many curses.
That is, it’s also the Golden Age for surveillance. If you fall under suspicion, there are new ways for the government to track you and learn all about you.
Your cell phone is a tracking device. Your email tells where you are when you compose a message. And in many cases, local, state or federal law enforcement officials can obtain the information without ever obtaining a warrant.
It’s definitely a double-edged sword.
The police have new tools for keeping law abiding people safe — that’s good — but privacy advocates worry government surveillance is becoming more common, particularly under a secretive Obama administration that apparently has no qualms about spying on reporters or citizens who advocate for unpopular political causes.
The Internet has become a “surveillance state,” technology security expert Bruce Schneier wrote in a March 16 article for Private companies routinely track Internet users and compile vast amounts of information, which can then often be accessed by the government, he wrote.
“Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we’re being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period,” Schneier wrote.
There’s little the average person can do about it.
“There are simply too many ways to be tracked. The Internet, e-mail, cell phones, web browsers, social networking sites, search engines: these have become necessities, and it’s fanciful to expect people to simply refuse to use them just because they don’t like the spying, especially since the full extent of such spying is deliberately hidden from us and there are few alternatives being marketed by companies that don’t spy,” he wrote.
 Follow that phone  
The advantage of the new surveillance technology became clear in February, when police tracked down and arrested Robert Lee Jackson Jr., a suspect accused of using a gun for a bank robbery in Monroeville and a gas station robbery in Norwalk.
Norwalk police tracked Jackson’s cell phone signal as he headed back to Huron. Officers stationed themselves along major highways and nabbed him at U.S. 20 and Ohio 58.
This kind of cell tracking is used for serious cases, not for snooping or for minor criminals, Sandusky police Chief John Orzech said.
“There’s a whole lot of paperwork you have to fill out,” Orzech said. “You have to have a hearing in front of a judge.”
In the last 10 years, Sandusky police have used cell phone tracking five times, at most, he said.
“It’s for those people who are wanted on pretty severe charges, like murder, attempted murder, stuff like that,” he said.
Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said cell phone tracking may also be used to track people who are threatening to harm themselves, or to find someone suffering from dementia but who has a cell phone.
A far more common police technique is to obtain records for phone calls, showing the numbers called from a particular phone. This is routine, Orzech said, and it’s usually done several times a week. The records show incoming and outgoing calls — showing who was talking to who — and the time of the calls.
The records are usually obtained for felony investigations, although they’re also useful for misdemeanor harassment cases, Orzech said.
The traditional safeguard against excessive snooping is the court system. For some kinds of surveillance, investigators have to obtain a warrant, which means going before a judge and explaining there’s evidence of crime and evidence a specific person may be guilty.
But for collecting some kinds of evidence, only a subpoena is required. Officials can fill out a piece of paper at the courthouse, without getting permission from anyone.
Two attorneys at the Erie County public defender’s office, Jeff Whitacre and Chris Carroll, said that some phone companies demand a warrant before they’ll hand over cell phone records, but others only want a subpoena.
Death of anonymity 
The ability of authorities to easily obtain phone records — even for people who aren’t accused of a crime — became public knowledge when the Obama administration, apparently searching for the source of a national security leak, seized thousands of phone company call records for 20 separate Associated Press phone lines over a two-month period. The AP revealed on May 13 the government had secretly seized the records.
The reporters actually had more protections than ordinary people would have, Washington Post technology columnist Timothy Lee wrote in a May 14 article for the paper’s “Wonkblog” section.
“Before an FBI agent can seek a journalist’s call records, they must get special approval from the attorney general. But that’s merely a Justice Department policy, not a constitutional requirement,” Lee wrote. “The rest of the country doesn’t get even the modest procedural protection the government affords to journalists.”
Lee said the government can obtain records of “cloud” email services such as Gmail without a warrant.
“The FBI likely didn’t need a warrant to obtain e-mail records that led to the identification of Paula Broadwell as the mistress of Gen. David Petraeus last year,” Lee wrote.
The law still makes a sharp distinction between tracking records for emails or for phone calls and actually listening in on the calls and reading the emails. Google would require a warrant before it would hand over the actual contents of Gmail messages, said Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute.
But the records of the messages, or the records of phone calls, can reveal a lot, Lee said, as the FBI demonstrated when it tracked down the identity of Petraeus’ secret mistress.
“Broadwell logged into her anonymous email account from multiple hotels. The feds subpoenaed the email provider to get the IP addresses from which she’d logged in, and then correlated those with hotel checkin records. She was the only one who’d checked into all the hotels,” Lee explained in an email to the Sandusky Register.
In his piece, Schneier pointed out that Broadwell had tried hard to cover her tracks: “She never logged in to her anonymous e-mail service from her home network. Instead, she used hotel and other public networks when she e-mailed him.”
Lots of potluck  
Recent revelations about the Obama administration’s spying on journalists and antiwar activists have raised questions about whether the federal government still behaves much as it did in the 1960s, when J. Edgar Hoover was the director of the FBI and the government routinely monitored activists., a pro-peace news and advocacy site, discovered in 2011 that the FBI was investigating the site and its editors. When Freedom of Information Act requests from the site’s lawyers produced nothing, the site filed a lawsuit on May 21 this year, demanding information about the FBI surveillance.
Eric Garris, one of’s founders, said the FBI’s investigation of the site is “very scary.”
“We’re a news organization and we definitely have a point of view, as probably most news organizations do, to some extent. Clearly, what we do should be, and is, protected by the First Amendment,” Garris said.
He said the site’s ability to survive has been damaged by the revelation that FBI agents are tracking it. The site exists on donations, and three important donors stopped giving money because they’re afraid of becoming the subjects of an FBI investigation.
The FBI carried out raids on Sept. 24, 2010, in several Midwestern states in the homes of peace activists in the Freedom Road Socialist organization, said Tom Burke, a member of the group and a self-described peace activist.
Burke’s home wasn’t raided, but as he drove to find an Internet cafe so he could write a press release about the event, he noticed that a black SUV was following him after he made two left turns. He made a third turn, and the SUV again turned behind him.
The SUV turned out to be an FBI vehicle. Agents served him with a grand jury subpoena, demanding testimony about the group’s alleged support of terrorist groups abroad. Burke and other members of the group refused to testify, and the investigation into the group continues.
Burke said his group holds potluck dinners to raise money and then donates to groups such as a Palestinian women’s health group or a union in Colombia. He insists his group gives no money to terror groups.
“We hold protests to try to change U.S. policies toward the countries of Colombia and Palestine,” he said.
Terrorism is a convenient label to repress speech, contends Burke, who notes that Nelson Mandela was labeled a terrorist by the U.S. government until 2007.
Federal impunity 
Erie County’s homegrown peaceniks haven’t felt threatened by the government, said Larry Smith, of Huron, a retired English professor and a member of Voices for Peace and Justice, which formed in 1985.
“We might have been watched. We never felt invaded,” Smith said. “We were a peace group. We were not advocating any type of violence.”
One important question for privacy advocates is just how many email messages and telephone calls are intercepted by the National Security Agency, the NSA, Sanchez said. It’s difficult to find out if the NSA is sucking up vast amounts of information, although in theory the NSA is only supposed to intercept communications with people in other countries.
In practice, it’s not always easy to tell if a Gmail message is between two people in California, or between someone in Pakistan and someone in Yemen, Sanchez said.
“It’s plausible to me they are vacuuming up a lot of stuff,” he said.
Because of the secrecy and actions of the Obama administration, it’s difficult for reporters and advocacy organizations to serve as watchdogs to determine if federal officials are following the law.
The Sandusky Register has found it’s much easier to get local officials on the phone to obtain local records under Ohio’s public records law, as compared to obtaining federal records or getting federal officials to speak on the record.
The U.S. Border Patrol, for example, has refused to answer questions for years about its activities in Erie County and surrounding counties.
This past week, the FBI raided the Outlaws bike clubhouse on Dewitt Avenue in Perkins Township. The FBI’s Cleveland office refused to provide information on the raid, and the search warrant was filed under seal.
This mirrors the actions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture late last year, when armed agents from the Farm Service Agency raided Hermes Winery. The Farm Service Agency refused to provide information on the raid, and the agency has since shot down the Register’s requests for documentation on the raid.
Sanchez said he is still waiting for a response to a Freedom of Information Act request he filed in July 2012 to obtain a semiannual report, required by law, on wiretaps the NSA carries out under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.
Government officials told Sanchez they could not confirm the existence of such a report. When Sanchez pointed out the reports were required by law, the officials conceded they understood the request.
“We’re pushing a year here,” Sanchez said. “I obviously haven’t gotten anything.”

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The I Ching in Illuminatus! and The Man in the High Castle

On page 24 of the Illuminatus! trilogy, the computer programmed with the I Ching and other forecasting methods and data issues Hexagram 23, Breaking Apart.

It was not the first time the I Ching has been used in a work of fiction. As Ted Hand has pointed out, it likely was first used in a novel in Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, which I've been re-reading. (Just as when I first read it as a teenager, I'm struck by how great it is.) In the first three chapters, Dick's characters consult the I Ching several times. Hand has just posted a link to the text of the I Ching that Dick used. 

Just for fun, I decided to try the online version of the I Ching. I asked it, "What does the future hold for the blog?"

I got Hexagram 20, "Contemplation."

Cast Hexagram:

20 - Twenty
Kuan / Contemplation

The gentle Wind roams the Earth:
The Superior Person expands his sphere of influence as he expands his awareness.
Deeply devoted to his pursuit of clarity and wisdom, he is unconscious of the inspiring, positive example he is setting for others to emulate.

You have cleansed yourself; now stand ready to make your humble, devout offering.


The situation marks a rising to new heights.
As you climb for a better view of the panorama, you make yourself more conspicuous to those below.
This hexagram is also known as the Watchtower, because the shape formed by its lines resembles the ancient guardposts manned by Chinese soldiers.
These towers were placed on mountainsides to give a better vantage point.
To those below, the watchtowers served as landmarks to help them find their way.
The quality of your search for clarity in this situation serves as such a guidepost for others along the Way.

The "Dick text's" version of my hexagram is here.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Oz Fritz reviews the new Timothy Leary biography

I'm still getting caught up on my Timothy Leary education. By contrast, Oz Fritz already knows a lot about Leary, and he recommends the new, free Timothy Leary book, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time by R.U. Sirius (free download is here.)

Oz has a long, thoughtful review at his blog.  Oz thinks Sirius' book is an ideal introduction for people who little nothing about Leary aside from the media caricature of Leary as a drug-addled clown. But it's also for well-informed Leary fans, says Oz, who cites specific bits of the book that surprised and pleased him. (Oz has read the other two Leary bios and also apparently has read all of Leary's books that provide biographical information.)

Sample quote from Oz's review: "All of the bases are covered here.  However, to flesh out the picture, I highly recommend reading the other two biographies, as well.  I Have America Surrounded by John Higgs gives a sympathetic, sometimes empathic presentation of Leary's life without shying away from some of the darker aspects.  Timothy Leary: A Biography by Robert Greenfield, though also well written, often comes across as a butcherous hack job by someone who clearly appears jealous and envious of his subject and so feels the need to put him down as much as possible.  It reminds me of John Symond's biography of Aleister Crowley, The Great Beast.  Yet, Greenfield's bio has much useful material when sifting out his bias.  Toward the end of TLTTT Sirius accurately points out the flaws in Greenfield's book but also acknowledges his debt to it."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Man in the High Castle

Back in high school, before I went to college and discovered Robert Anton Wilson, I read Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, which won a Hugo award. It's the current title in the Philip K. Dick Reading Club I mentioned a few days ago. I'm re-reading it and I'll try to submit a couple of comments at the reading club website.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A good quote

Many people I follow on Twitter like to send out quotes from RAW. Mark (midnight 138) sent out a good one the other day: ""When the politics of lying becomes normal, paranoia and alienation become the 'normality' of the day."

I asked for a citation, not recognizing the source, and he explained it was from Cosmic Trigger 1. Mark told me it was on page 49 or thereabouts; on my Pocket books edition, it's on page 36. It's from the chapter, "The Heresy Hunt Begins."

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Beethoven and the Freemasons

"Through the Lens of Freemasonry: The Influence of Ancient Esoteric Thought on Beethoven's Late Works," a doctoral dissertation by Brian Gaona, available here, discusses the influence of the masons and secret societies (including the Illuminati) upon Beethoven, and then discusses how those influences can be seen in three late works: Bagatelle, op. 119, No. 7, the Piano Sonata in C minor, op. 111 (e.g., Piano Sonata No. 32, the final one), and the String Quartet in C-sharp minor, op. 131 (No. 14.)

I don't know the bagatelle yet, but the final piano concerto is quite famous and has a jazzy passage well ahead of its time. The 14th Quartet is a long, interesting work; according to Wikipedia it was the composer's favorite late quartet.

Gaona is a cellist. The dissertation was written at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the settings for Richard Powers' novel, The Gold Bug Variations, which features a character who listens to the Glenn Gould recording of Bach's "Goldberg Variations" over and over again; Powers is an English professor at the school. Noted composer Steven Andrew Taylor also is on the faculty there (I have one of Taylor's albums, "The Machine Awakes.")

Hat tip: Ted Hand.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

New Falcon takes the Kindle plunge

New Falcon has begun offering its books on Kindle. This is big news because it has the effect of making many of Robert Anton Wilson's works more available, particularly as the digital editions are priced to sell.

While some of RAW's books have been available on Kindle for a long time, many titles have just been added as a result of New Falcon's move. A check in Amazon's Kindle store reveals these new titles: Email to the Universe ($4.99) (an excellent collection), Prometheus Rising ($7.99), Coincidance ($4.99), Neutopolitique (with Timothy Leary) $4.99, TSOG ($4.99) Let's hope other New Falcon titles will be added soon.

In addition, Eric Wagner's An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson, which costs $15.15 as a paperback (a price that doesn't include an additional charge for shipping) is just $3.99 on Kindle.

I did a quick check of Amazon UK, and it appears most if not all of these titles are available there, too.

There are various Kindle apps for various machines, so you don't have to actually have a Kindle to read any of these.

Hat tip, Eric Wagner.

UPDATE: Looks like there may be a few bugs in the system. I paid $4.99 to buy Wilhelm Reich in Hell and instead of a book got a one-page document that begins, "DO NOT PUBLISH THIS FILE." Anyone else bought anything yet?

UPDATE II: Amazon says it is sorry and will work to get the book fixed. I also have sent an email to the contact address for the New Falcon Web site, as follows: "I bought Robert Anton Wilson's "Wilhelm Reich in Hell" for $4.99 from Amazon as a Kindle book and all I got was a one page error message. (I'm the guy who does the blog). Can you please fix the problem ASAP? Amazon chat transcript follows."  This should be a good test of New Falcon's customer service skills.

UPDATE III: New Falcon replied right away, so they pass the test! They say they'll work with Amazon to fix it. This should still be really good news once the bugs are ironed out.  

UPDATE IV: Gary Acord bought Coincidance and An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson and they were messed up the same way as the book I bought. I'll do a follow up post when New Falcon/Amazon get things under control.